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Golden Horse 02-01-2013 02:42 PM

Is AERC a reputable source of information? Another weight debate!
Interesting reading from the American Endurance Riders Conference, taken from their handbook, Chapter 3 selecting the endurance horse.

When it comes to breeds, itís obvious that as a group Arabians do the best. On the other hand, individuals from any breed can excel in endurance, and not all Arabians are suitable candidates. Arabians are usually easier than other breeds to keep fit once they are in shape. In fact one is looking for a type of horse, not a breed, i.e., a sound, efficient mover with staying power. What does seem to be true is a higher percentage of Arabians are the right type than most other breeds.

The most preferred age of a prospect is 3-8 years. If you like to start with a horse who has never been ridden and are willing to spend the two years for basic equitation training then 3-4 is a good age, otherwise look for the 5-8 year old. A younger horse may take many years before you will have any idea whether or not he is suitable for the sport, and an older horse is fine if you are well aware of his history. (Endurance horses often perform competitively well into their late teens.) This history should include regular exercise, preferably trail riding. It will normally take two to three years to have the horse in top fitness if they have not been exercised a lot before your purchase but while you are conditioning you may enter many endurance rides on horses that are this age when you purchase them, provided you have the self-restraint to ride these early rides as conditioning rides and not races. Many a good prospect has been ruined by racing too soon Remember, if your horse obviously has shown you that he is not a good endurance horse prospect, there are many others out there that will fill the bill.

There is no ideal size for an endurance horse. Ponies can do very well, as can horses of 16 hands or so. Many good endurance horses are between 14 and 15 hands. The size of the horse should be appropriate for the size of the rider, however. No one could expect a pony to be competitive carrying a 200 pound man. Small, lightweight riders obviously have an advantage in that they have a greater range of sizes from which to choose. (As a rule, the horse can carry up to 30% of his body weight, depending on his bone size, i.e., a 900 pound horse should be able to carry approximately 250 pounds on his back.)


I am interested a discussion on the bolded part there, so often we see the 20% rule taken as gospel, but here is a group who oversee a gruelling discipline saying that 30% should be the rule.

Not in any way is this a fat bashing or promoting thread, but hopefully a meaningful discussion of the 20% or 30% rule.

Joe4d 02-01-2013 02:56 PM

thats because they base that on actual data, as oppossed to old wives tales and la la fairy tales invented and continued on by skinny girls to put down others.

The 30 percent they are quoted on data from 57 years of 100 mile endurance rides, where many horses and riders have to weigh in. The study showed NO correlation between rider weight and horse weight in winning, completions, and non completions up to about 32% , which was highest ratio in study.

Lots of real data has come up in this discussion which basically shows the 20% is hogwash.
Can a fat out of shape horse carry more than a fit trim one ? nope,
Historical loads of armored knights exceed 20% based on actual loads and tack found.
A horse weight is a unit of measurement equal to 200 lbs, in an era when average horses were about 800 lbs.
And on and on. the 20 % rule comes from a single mans predjudice thaat wrote an Army field manual, then became a General, his cavalry sucked, yet his FM keeps getting quoted out of context I might add, over and over and over.

clippityclop 02-01-2013 03:10 PM

Correct - the AERC spends and has spent a lot of money on a regular basis on statistical research since the 70's if not earlier. The AERC is often the 'go to guy' for info like this and shares info with the USEF for example so they can offer better insight to the equestrian activities they oversee.

deserthorsewoman 02-01-2013 03:12 PM

I never believed the 20% rule as a maximum for every horse, first of all. I think it largely depends on the build of the horse, good bone, short strong back, and it's fitness.
I've seen too many 13h Icelandic horses ridden by adult men 6 feet and taller, racing speed toelt and pace. Without any problem. Or the TB, rather long back, weak joints having trouble with a 160lb woman aboard( English saddle).
So for me the " get a draft or draft cross if you're over 200lbs" is a bunch of nonsense.period.

clippityclop 02-01-2013 03:16 PM

Joe you always make me laugh - you have a way with words - your la la fairy skinny girls ...:rofl: :-P:lol:

bsms 02-01-2013 04:32 PM

The 20% rule was meant for a horse ridden 20-40 miles a day for weeks at a time. At 20%, the horse could keep it up indefinitely. At 30%, they could not. Also, I believe the cavalry did those tests with the McClellan saddle, which many cavalrymen said was hard to fit for a horse.

The studies I've seen indicate that horses adjust their movement for heavier weights, just as a man carrying a heavy pack does.

bsms 02-01-2013 04:40 PM

FWIW, you will often see this study misused:

If you read the conditions, they took horses that were not ridden for 4 months, then rode them once very 14 days - so they were testing out of shape horses!

It was kind of like asking me if running 3 miles is hard. If you asked before my back was injured at 50, I'd have said it was a piece of cake - I'd been doing at least that much almost daily for 40 years. Now, after a 4 year gap following my injury, jogging 3 miles non-stop would darn near kill me.

Golden Horse 02-01-2013 04:56 PM


Originally Posted by bsms (Post 1873437)
FWIW, you will often see this study misused:

If you read the conditions, they took horses that were not ridden for 4 months, then rode them once very 14 days - so they were testing out of shape horses!

I had never picked that little snippet up, that makes a huge differece.

Golden Horse 02-02-2013 12:22 PM

More thoughts?

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